A Big, Fat, Spoilery Review: Nightshade

Hey all!


This blog has been freakin' heavy - not fun - so far.  It's a place where I just dump whatever I'm emoting on at the moment... so maybe you don't know but I also emote on GAMES... and this is one game - I will give a review on.  Is it going to be read?  I dunno - but I'm going to review it anyhow.


***None of these images are my own but are taken from various websites like Steam, or Aminoapps, etc.  I claim no right to these but just are using them here to make the post pretty.


Further... regardless of the crap I'm about to write - I did quite enjoy this game... because... Ninjas.  HOW CAN I NOT LIKE IT? - shutup ... you're here... the tags that led you hear CLEARLY state "Ninja" and "Anime". 


Also note: This review is just my opinion.  I'm not saying I'm right or wrong... so keep the damn haterade in your pants.  YOU chose to read it.

So - I've just finished playing the above noted game.  It is available on Steam, if you are interested

Real quick - real spoilery summary of the game

The quick 'n' dirty - no thought process - nothin' just the impressions - obviously friggin' spoilers - it's right there in the title - read on if you wanna (btw: from here on out "your" and "MC" can be interchangeable when talking about the game):


Artwork: F'in perfect gorgeous. Super on point - eye candy in so many ways. 

NPCs:  Your (MC) dad is a dick.  Leader of the country is also a massive dick.  Ennosuke and Kyara are nice enough - but written in a way that is seriously not good for anyone - ie: they do not think for themselves... much.


The Relationship routes:

Kuroyuki:  Codependence and teenage 'love'

Chojiro Momochi: Incest is best (grooosss...)

Goemon Ishikawa: I fear for their future - he's a bit of a fukboi

Hanzo Hattori: Good relationship if he wasn't kinda being a Ped (tip: It is usually very awkward and in this case illegal to get into a relationship with your MOTHER'S CHILDHOOD FRIEND).

Gekkamaru:  It's finally a win for the truly nice guys out there.  Love it.

First time playing a JapaneseVisual Novel (VN)?

If it is... or like... one of the first 3 you've played... This is a great one to start with.  It's got all the tropes that standard VNs normally have:

- Protagonist is 15-17 years old and VERY PRETTY

- All the love interests are secretly/not secretly kinda in love with her

- Grand Adventure

- Some surreality

- Every "main" character (ie: Lots o' dialogue who isn't evil) has a full blown attractiveness super-upgrade.  Everyone is beautiful.  Seriously.



This is a really GOOD VN to start with because - unlike a whole chunk of VNs out there right now... this one has

- Excellent Voice acting, I don't speak a LICK of Japanese... but you can always tell the emotions and the general message the character is trying to get across

- G-damn beautiful artwork, seriously... I see anyone manage to cosplay any of these fine threads I will end up just staring and drooling.  The Artwork is also consistent and onpoint (ie: whether it be CGs or paperdoll sprites, it is consistently good and you can always tell who is who - no one looks malformed or weirdly body-horror modified, which happens frequently in indie VNs).

-Music is also high quality and absolutely lovely.

- No surprise porn (when you're not expecting it, and it's not hinted that it;s at ALL necessary... having characters suddenly get nekkid and a XXX shot with full penetration appears... it's quite jarring.  I'm looking at you, Fate/Stay Night... geezus).

- No surprise gore (it won't be all beautiful cherry blossoms then suddenly rotting entrails)

The Detailed Reviews

I know you're not going to read this.  It's long, and it's just me blurting out my thoughts.  Sometimes though... it helps.. just to... write.. it ... down...

Alrighty ladies... here is little Kuroyuki.  The ONLY one who is... your age.  That's right.. he's a 16 year old Ninja.


Right off... if you've played enough Asian-based games and watched enough Anime... you know...he's covering an eye... and it ain't cuz he's emo. He's hiding something.


That something is: SEVERE MENTAL TRAUMA - which results in the regular hocus-pocus of the Visual Novel world.  Turns out he got sent off to be trained as a child assassin when he was 8, but he's been in loooove with you since you guys were born.  You're obviously born within months of each other because it is regularly referred to how you (the MC) and him breastfed at the same time.


Turns out the kid is *kind of* the sympathetic character.  If there was ever a case of break-the-cutie... this would be it.  8 years old... sent off and tortured like f*** to become an assassin, learns a type of Ninjutsu that EATS YOUR SOUL every time you use it.  Huh.  gee... perrrfect relationship material.


Turns out the only part of him that stays remotely human/humane is the part where he is totally in-F*cking-"love" with the MC... some call it love... some call it codependence.


In this route the MC plays the role of the codependent dumbass teen.  I guess this isn't TOO bad considering life expectancy in Japan at the time was... prooobably... uhh around late 30s... maximum.  So they only have another 16-20 years to be dumbasses.


Before you all start spewing hate.  Think HONESTLY of yourself at 16 years old. 

Now saddle yourself with a dude who has forgotten *everything in his life* except for his freakin' obsession with YOU and how to kill people without blinking an eye.

"Yes, I will spend the rest of my life with you... you are all I need!" - this.  Is. a. problem.

But ... joyous day - calloo callay... this is the happy ending.


Ending Bad: Everyone dies

Ending Good: Everyone lives - you go on to have your codependent relationship for the next 20 years under the watchful eye of another Ninja Clan.

MC plays the role of: Codependent stockholm-syndromed battered-spouse

Okay this is where Those of us in North America are officially going to prooobably get pretty squicked out.


Introducing Choijro.  Your Cousin.  No... not your Cousin-not-blood-related... not your adopted-not-real-cousin... no... your honest-to-gawd aunt's son.


Yes.  He's a relationship option.  Yes... I threw up a little in my mouth.


IF we ignore the big incest-elephant in the room, this character is pretty standard and pretty cool.  He's got the most "regular" issues possible... raised to be the "unfeeling stoic" (also due to having lots of family die when he was young) and learns through having to haul your sorry-ass everywhere and protect you that hey... it is not only TOTALLY OKAY to have emotions but that living without them doesn't make life any better just 'cuz you don't "lose" stuff.


Please note... not ONCE in the ENTIRE story line does it indicate that he's having issues with showing emotion due to you guys being FIRST COUSINS... but it's all solely because he was "raised" to be a stoic.  I'm still grossed out thinking about this... it was a difficult story line to get through...



Your damn character KEEPS calling him "Brother Chojiro" - Look... this is NOT HELPING.  I get it... Asians... if you're from the same generation, you call your cousins "brother" and "sister" - I know.  SO HOW DOES THIS NOT MAKE IT EVEN MORE GROSS?  I don't know... I give up.


Anyhow... this route would be *way less uncomfortable* if your damn character would stop calling him 'brother'... and stop CONSTANTLY mentioning how you're blood-related.


Other than that - you guys go through the general cycle of growing closer... him coming to terms with the fact that emotions are not a bad thing... and oh shit.. wait... in this route - no matter the ending all your friends die.  Okay, right screw this route.


Bad Ending: Everyone dies

Good Ending: Only ALL YOUR FRIENDS die... but the romantic couple live on.

MC plays the role of: Little girl needing her daddy.


Introducing Goemon Ishikawa.. aka: Post-Sengoku Robin Hood.


He steals from the dickbag rich and gives to the poor.  He's a constant flirt, almost to the point of creepy-rapey but... gets away with it 'cuz he's got a pretty face - and a damn awesome sense of style.


Seriously... lookit this guy.  Pretty is as pretty does, even his ninja outfit has a freakin' flower for the button clasp.


He is one of the three "training bros" in the game... him, Hanzo and Chojiro are ex-training buddies... but with massive age gaps... so Goemon is actually close-ish in age to your character...


I have to hand it to the guy though... he doesn't exactly lie to you (except for one MAJOR plot point... but there's a reason for it).  He's in yo' face flirting constantly, and the jackass KNOWS he's good lookin'.  He struts it like the cocky bastard he is.


And yeah, your damn MC STILL falls in love with him... aight aight aight... he DOES save your ass numerous times... and he DOES only steal from the rich, which is pretty cool... and only from the douchebaggy rich ... which is even better.


Honestly this guy's route is probably the most entertaining one, he ruffles EVERYONE's feathers due to the fact that he's not stuffy, he's got no qualms about just being... well... a libertine - and he TELLS you that within seconds of meeting him. 


His route generally goes the path of "I always loved all women and thought them all to be fun... but then I met you and now I want to live my life with you because you are just that awesome".  If you're into the romantic novels - this is awesome.  It is the ultimate true ending for any misty-eyed sparkley-minded girl. 


Truthfully... gawd, in the few years he has left to live you KNOW he's gonna play on ya after a few years together... but... fo' the sake of the game.. let's let not think about that.


Bad Ending: Everyone dies except him... although he probably bites it later via suicide

Good Ending: Everyone lives but he makes you THINK they all die so that the awesome heist plan goes through (which... honestly was FREAKIN' SWEET.  I loved that ... actually... the heist still makes me smile).


MC plays the role of: Uptight conservative girl dazzled and seduced by the bright lights and allure of living life spontaneously

Now, the most excellent of Ninjas (actually historically the name of a Samurai...) - Hanzo Hattori.  Seriously got an attractiveness upgrade.  Look at what depictions say he actually looked like... thank goodness for Anime Artists.


Yes... I imagine that in the 17th century child-brides were a 'thing' and they were 'ok' - but I am not of the 17th century and honestly Every. Freakin'. TIME... Hanzo would talk about him knowing the MC's mother... I kept hoping he'd say something like "She babysat me" or... "She was an older friend" - but then he goes on to confirm...

1.) She and him were around the same age

2.) At one point he says "I've been doing this for the past 20 years" or something along those lines...


All in all he's like... early to mid 30s.  Again... life expectancy for that time period... he's got .. what, a good 5 more years? 


You. are. 16-f'in-years old.


That. is outright illegal and damn gross in most countries.


Okay... so obvious pedo concerns aside...


How is it NOT SUPER AWKWARD to be getting into a relationship with your mom's childhood friend?  How is it NOT super weird that he refers to the fact that he KNEW you before you were BORN (in fetu) - not as a kid .. but as a (considered at the time) adult? AUGH.


Okay, for my own damn sanity - let's age up the MC mentally and pretend... just... PRETEND she's actually in her 20s...


If it's that way... this is probably the best relationship.


It's the ONLY route wherein the MC does any growing up and improving.  She trains, gains confidence, learns to speak up and stop whining... in fact, if you choose the 'What do I do what do I do what do I do?" whiny choices... you end up with the bad end.  You get penalized for being a wuss!  So yeah... this route would be awesome... if...only...


Hanzo himself doesn't have any serious issues... I'd trust the guy with my life.  He's all "duty above all" - but, much like Chojiro learns throughout the route that emotions and caring about shit doesn't make you a punkass weakling... so he grows too.


Bad end: He dies, you kill yourself - your traitorous friends just have to deal

Good end: Everyone is happy and you go live in a remote village in co-op retirement.

MC plays the role of: Teenager growing up and finding herself... buuut also succumbs to the allure of much older dude.  (augh ugh ugh ugh).


Lastly - but BEST... ly (is that a word?) - Gekkamaru, your childhood friend AND loyal bodyguard - win win!


I actually liked this route because... it's one of the few times that the truly nice-guy comes out on top (stop it.  Gutter-mind... geezus).


This guy seems to be age appropriate (I'd say... probably between 19-20...?) - is NOT blood related to you in ANYway... and is truly honestly sweet.


But what about all the overbearing bodyguard shit??  Well... Ha HA... you get to find out in his route that the overbearing protective crap is due to a SPELL (c'mon.  Ninjas.  Did you seriously not think there'd be some hand-wavy magic?). 


In the good ending he even SAYS as much... that he is no longer your "servant" but your equal and partner - and that any lingering wish to protect would be pretty much equivalent to how much any of us would want to protect our loved ones 'cuz you know... we love them?


Anyhow... the way he was written is adorkable.  It's the only word I can think of... this is the ONE character throughout *ALL* the routes constantly has your best interest at heart, would move mountains and give up everything for you - and bonus, in his route, you find out it's all true.   He even has thoughts of what is best for YOU (the MC)... and not just what HE wants (which is pretty much the norm for the others). 


Truly nice guy... who got double-cursed.  Which is really the only way I think they could write a bad ending for him without the MC being a total beyotch. 


Unfortunately... the one thing that mars this ending is that...your friends still die.  Most of them except Hanzo and Kuroyuki.  Chojiro, Ennosuke, Kyara, Kasume... dead dead deeeeaaad.


Good Ending: Most of your friends die,  True Love conquers all, you finally get together, get married (probably)


MC Plays the role of: Normal, human girl with real emotions and realistic response to finding out who killed all of her friends and why.

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